Miceli: In stepping aside, Woods steps up

When Tiger Woods pulled his name from consideration for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team, it clearly had to be a difficult decision for the injured 14-time major winner based on his recent comments at the PGA Championship.

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In a magnanimous gesture, Tiger Woods pulled his name from consideration for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

It clearly had to be a difficult decision for Woods because he has said on more than one occasion, including after missing the cut at the PGA Championship last week, that he wanted to be on Tom Watson’s team that will make the trip to Gleneagles, Scotland, in September.

By making the early decision, Woods has stepped up for the best of a U.S. team that already has its issues, with Dustin Johnson out, an injured Jason Dufner possibly unavailable and Matt Kuchar dealing with back issues.

Now Woods will be unavailable to Watson and miss the Ryder Cup for only the second time since turning professional in 1996.

Oddly enough, the last time Woods missed the biennial event was in 2008, the last time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup.

Many observers think that a healthy Woods would be an asset to any U.S. Ryder Cup team. Unfortunately for the U.S., Woods has not been healthy for most of the 2014 season and clearly would not have been a benefit.

Woods' withdrawal also might have saved Watson from making a terrible mistake.

During his post-PGA Championship news conference, Watson talked about his nine players who made the team on points. Most of the questions were about Woods, at which point Watson talked as if he would take Woods regardless.

Such a decision could have sunk the U.S. team's chances. It would have put tremendous scrutiny on the selection and an incredible focus on Woods' game at Gleneagles.

So where Watson goes from here is only speculation.

Before the Open Championship, Watson’s short list would have included Woods, Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson. Little more than a month later, Mickelson earned his way onto the team, and Woods is not an option. An insider in the Watson camp suggested that Bradley seems to be a lock and Ryan Moore would be the other likely option, leaving the third spot up for grabs.

Even without Woods, the U.S. team will still be the underdog when it travels overseas. But with Woods' decision made, Watson now has a clear path versus having the Woods question hanging over his head.

Woods' action was one of unselfishness and truly was needed.

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